Blue carbon ecosystems such as seagrasses, mangroves and tidal saltmarshes have exceptional capacity to sequester carbon dioxide.

Compared to many terrestrial forests, these coastal vegetation communities can accumulate carbon at faster rates and store it for longer periods, making them an important tool to combat climate change.

The Goyder Institute for Water Research’s Coastal Carbon Opportunities project is among the first to research the potential for coastal systems to help mitigate climate change in South Australia, investigating the potential of South Australian coastal ecosystems to sequester and store carbon.

The two-year project, led by The University of Adelaide, in collaboration with Edith Cowan University, SA Water, SA EPA, and CSIRO, has produced a series of technical and summary reports covering:

“There’s over a million hectares of seagrass in the state. That ecosystem holds a lot of carbon, and it’s constantly sequestering more carbon every year,” said Dr Alice Jones, Research Associate, The University of Adelaide.

“For the area that they cover they punch above their weight in terms of the amount of carbon that’s stored compared to terrestrial ecosystems,” said Dr Jones.

“Most of the blue carbon values used in the past have been based on tropical coastal ecosystems, so one of our main goals was to get baseline information about blue carbon in South Australia,” said Dr Jones.

The team estimated that South Australia holds around 1.12 million hectares of blue carbon ecosystems, which is as much as 10% of the blue carbon habitat of all of Australia. Blue carbon habitats in South Australia contained about 5% (up to 76 Mt) of the nation’s soil organic carbon stocks, of which about 90% is in seagrass ecosystems. South Australian blue carbon ecosystems sequester 0.11–0.14 Tg Corg y-1 .

The Coastal Carbon Opportunities project provided critical knowledge for the State Government’s Blue Carbon Strategy, recently released by Hon Minister Speirs MP (Minster for Environment and Water), by filling key knowledge gaps and drawing on team members’ expertise on its technical reference panel. They have also contributed to a Blue Carbon Research Projects Synthesis Report and Research agenda for blue carbon in South Australia in partnership with colleagues from the Institute’s Salt to C research project, led by Professor Sabine Dittmann at Flinders University. The research agenda outlines the way forward for blue carbon research in SA as well as opportunities to increase carbon sequestration, potentially with options for carbon crediting.

Image: Mangrove and saltmarsh at Torrens Island. By Alice Jones

As well as collecting baseline blue carbon information, the team looked at the effects of human coastal activity on carbon sequestration in seagrass and mangrove/saltmarsh environments.

“We found that the impacted sites had at least two times less carbon than the unimpacted sites,” said Dr Jones, “that information’s helping us understand what the implications are in terms of carbon release when there’s coastal development or changed tidal flow.”

Through the project the team also developed new techniques to measure above-ground mangrove biomass using drones and investigated the value of the ecosystem services that blue carbon habitats provide.

Habitat protection and restoration can increase the carbon sink value of coastal environments, as well as enhance the many other ecosystem services they provide. Highlighting these opportunities in South Australia could be a vital element in remediating coastal vegetation communities and increasing the carbon sequestration and storage capacity of mangrove and saltmarsh ecosystems throughout the state.

Read more about the project’s research findings in the project reports or contact Dr Alice Jones for more information. You can also keep up-to-date with the team’s progress on twitter (@CoastalCarbonSA) or through their project website.

Full article at Goyder Institute.

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Windara Reef is the largest man-made oyster reef system in the Southern Hemisphere based in South Australia. The wild release of the hatchery-raised Australian Flat Oysters marks the final stage of three years of work to reconstruct natural shellfish reefs in Gulf St Vincent, South Australia. The Windara Reef system is under 10 metres of […]

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A member of the Environment Institute, Dr Michelle Lim will present her research outcomes during her Barbara Kidman Fellowship. Title: Making South Australian biodiversity law fit for purpose in the Anthropocene: Challenges and Opportunities Date: Friday 29th November 2019 Time: 1:00pm Where: Moot Court, Ligertwood Building, University of Adelaide, North Terrace Bookings: not required, please add to your […]

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A panel of experts from the University of Adelaide came together to talk about one of the most critical issue of our time. They discussed: what past climate change events can tell us about how Earth’s systems will react in future how climate change will exacerbate existing threats to species and ecosystems, including land clearance and […]

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Science in the Pub presents the Great Evolutionary Transitions in Animals and Plants Date: Friday 6th December 2019 Time: 6:00pm-7:00pm Where: The Rob Roy Hotel, 106 Halifax Street, Adelaide Bookings: Free, book here How did life leap from one single-cell entity in the ocean to the millions of animals, plants and bacteria we see today? […]

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The Native Vegetation Council (NVC) is an independent body which monitors the overall condition of the state’s vegetation. The council makes decisions on a wide range of matters concerning native vegetation in South Australia. Professor Bob Hill has been elected as the ministers nominee. In this role he will give expert advice on applications received […]

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World renowned palaeontologist, Professor Mike Archer will take us on an amazing journey through Riversleigh World Heritage Area. Come see the weird and wonderful mammals that roamed Australia’s rainforests millions of years ago. When: Saturday 23rd of November 2019 Time 6:30pm start Where: Naracoorte Town Hall RSVP: Not required, but please add to your calendar […]

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Researcher from Naturhistorisches Museum, Switzerland visiting the University of Adelaide. Dr Seraina Klopfstein will be presenting on: Title: Pleasures and perils of dating trees with fossils. An example from pimpliform parasitoid wasps (hymenoptera, ichneumonidae) Date: Friday 29th November 2019 Time: 12:10pm – 1:00 pm Location: Benham Lecture Theatre, Benham Building, North Terrace Campus Cost: Free, no bookings […]

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The South Australian Museum has loaned a complete Diprotodon skull and jaws for long term display in the Fossil Centre at the Naracoorte Caves World Heritage Area. Due to its age and condition the Diprotodon skull required many months of cleaning and preparation by SA Museum staff and volunteers. Marjorie Jones, a long term volunteer at […]

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Hosted by the The British Elephant Pub, ten early-career scientists shared the story of their science. Ten Fresh Scientists revealed their discoveries using rhyme and reason in the time it took for a sparkler to burn. Dr Mcafee – a new member of the Environment Institute was voted best speaker. Dr Dominic Mcafee is a marine ecologist with a […]

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